A 19-year-old woman – half-naked and gagged, with her hands and feet tied up with ropes – was found behind the pulpit of a church in Aizawl early Wednesday morning.
Several members of the congregation who were making preparations for an approaching service after the early morning prayers at the Bethlehem Veng Presbyterian Church found the woman around 6.30 am.
The woman, who hails from Tlungvel village about 58 kms from the state capital, was lying behind the pulpit (a raised platform from where preachers deliver sermons) with her hands and feet bound with ropes, and a scarf tied around her mouth.
The congregation members untied her but she refused to say in any detail what had happened, only mentioning that two people – a man and woman she said she did not know – tied her up and left her there.
She also asked for another woman with whose family she had been staying for about a month in the locality. An eyewitness from the locality said the woman and her father came to identify her.
They confirmed she had been staying in their care and was being taken care of by the daughter, who has been volunteering to care for members of loose occult movements.
The police were informed and they have detained her for questioning.
They have also registered a case under IPC section 295-A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.)
A senior police official said the woman has not been responsive to police interrogators but that several angles are being investigated, including who were the people that tied her up and left her in the church, and even whether she might have been complicit in the incident.